Momentary reprieve for Nawaz in Al-Azizia reference after lawyer withdraws from case

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court adjourned the hearing of Al-Azizia reference against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday after the defence lawyer excused from representing his client in all three corruption references filed by NAB.

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Nawaz and his family members are facing three corruption references in the accountability court — Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments — in which they are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.

Defence lawyer Khawaja Haris had to continue cross-examining National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) star witness and Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head Wajid Zia today. However, he announced the withdrawal of legal services to Nawaz.

Announcing his decision to withdraw his legal services to Nawaz during the hearing of Al-Azizia reference, Haris said the Supreme Court had ‘dictated on completing the trial within a month.’

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on June 10 had directed the accountability court to announce its verdict on all three corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family within a month.

During the hearing, the chief justice rejected Nawaz’s former counsel Haris’ petition for completing the trial in six weeks, observing that final verdict against the former premier, his sons, daughter, and son-in-law should be announced within a month.

Accountability court Judge Muhammad Bashir had adjourned the cross-examination on June 4 and directed the prosecution to submit the final arguments in London flats case by June 5.

Haris had requested the judge to hear the arguments in all three references at once.

“Sixty per cent of the arguments are the same in the three references,” Harris said.

“We will file a petition tomorrow against your written order to announce a combined judgement,” he added.

Further, during the hearing, Zia, who works as an additional director at the Federal Investigation Agency, remarked that the Share Sale Agreement 1980 of Gulf Steel Mills showed that Nawaz’s cousin Tariq Shafi and Muhammad Hussain were partners.

In an earlier hearing on Friday, Zia had said no evidence was found linking former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Hill Metal Establishment.

“Neither any witness claimed nor there is any document to show that Nawaz was involved in any way with Hill Metal Establishment,” Zia had said during his cross-examination as Judge Mohammad Bashir presided proceedings in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

On Thursday, Zia said he did not come across any document during the investigation which showed that Nawaz is the owner of Al-Azizia Steel Mills.

Khawaja Haris withdraws from further counsel in Nawaz NAB cases

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s legal counsel Khawaja Haris on Monday withdrew from representing him in the NAB references filed against his family.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on June 10 had directed the accountability court to announce its verdict on all three corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family within a month.

During the hearing, the chief justice rejected Nawaz’s former counsel Haris’ petition for completing the trial in six weeks, observing that final verdict against the former premier, his sons, daughter, and son-in-law should be announced within a month.

Haris, in a statement announcing his decision, said the Supreme Court had ‘dictated on completing the trial within a month.’

 

Fawad Chaudhry

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry on Monday said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris’s recusal from fighting the ex-premier’s case in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references filed against his family is a ploy to escape judgment in the case.

“Harris’ withdrawal from the case is an attempt by the Sharif family to escape judgment in the references filed against them,” the PTI leader said while speaking to the media in Islamabad.

“Nawaz and his family do not have any evidence that they can present in court in their defense,” Chaudhry further said.

He further said, “There will be a huge question mark on the country’s justice system if a judgment is not given on the references against the Sharif family.”

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